April 1st | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's booksI have some great news: my third collection of short stories is now ready, and waiting for my cover wizard friend, Alex Saskalides, to work his magic.

The title is Honest Fibs, since the stories are narrated as an exchange of tall tales between two fishermen.

To celebrate both the upcoming release and today’s appreciation of improbable tales here is one of the earliest examples (1528).

The strange tale of the Lucchese fur merchant

I found this story, first published by Castiglione in his Cortegiano (1528), in Authorama. It served as was the basis of one of the more popular of Baron Munchausen’s tales, The Horn.

A merchant of Lucca had traveled to Poland in order to buy furs. There was at that time a war with Muscovy, from which country the furs were procured, so the Lucchese merchant was directed to the confines of the two countries.

On reaching the Borysthenes, which divided Poland and Muscovy, he found that the Muscovite traders remained on their own side of the river from distrust, on account of the state of hostilities.

The Muscovites, desirous of being heard across the river announced the prices of their furs in a loud voice; but the cold was so intense that their words were frozen in the air before they could reach the opposite side.

Hereupon the Poles lighted a fire in the middle of the river, which was frozen into a solid mass; and in the course of an hour, the words which had been frozen up were melted, and fell gently upon the further bank.

The prices demanded were so high that the Lucchese merchant could not accept. It didn’t really matter, though, as the Muscovite traders had already gone away by then…

Happy April Fool’s Day, everyone!